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Travel expenses for employees – including – company directors – get a lot of press.  But what about the self employed – sole traders and business partners?

Quite often HMRC tackle self employed travel expenses, the latest being the Samadian case – however these high profile cases, much as HMRC would argue other wise, are generally decided on their unique facts.

There is a paucity of law on the issue, but Hansard, the official record of Parliament, comes to our aid recording parliamentary business in December 1976

Self-Employed Persons

HC Deb 06 December 1976 vol 922 cc66-7W

67W

Mr. David Mitchell – asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in view of the fact that the legitimate and reasonable expenditure on food necessarily consumed during the course of travel is allowable as an expense against tax for the employee of a company, he will seek to amend the law so that the identical expenditure incurred by a self-employed person is also allowable; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Robert Sheldon – pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 3rd December 1976; Vol. 921, c. 288–9], gave the following information – The rules governing the admissibility of expenditure are, of course, different for an employee and for a self-employed person. In practice, a self-employed person may be allowed a deduction for modest expenditure on meals consumed in the course of a travelling occupation or an occasional business journey outside the normal pattern. I do not think that any change in the law is necessary, but if the hon. Member has a particular case in mind, I shall be glad to look into it.

So in most cases modest expenses for someone travelling for self employment should be allowable.

However as both the Samadian case, and the earlier case of Horton v Young, illustrate, regular trips to a place of work, or between places of work, won’t be allowable – there is a perceived difference between someone whose business is itinerant and someone with a regular work place for self employed activities.